Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Barramundi Of The Year.

Hi there,

Here comes the tale, of my first caught Barramund this year.

  • I hooked up five fish and boated only two.
  • It was my first ride in Brett's new boat.
  • Brett caught more fish than I, once again.
  • All our fish were caught casting lures, soft plastics and hard bodies.
  • I caught my first Barramundi on a Cultiva Tango Dancer.

I had not really had the possibility to go and do some serious fishing yet this year.
So when Brett invited me to have a go at fishing on Darwin harbour in his new boat, I jumped on the offer and said yes in no time.
And has usual, serious fishing with Brett, was full of laughter and it was a very good day on the water.
Brett picked me up from my home a bit before 11:00am, and we were soon launching the new boat from a ramp not very far from my place, nearly at the heart of the city.
The plan was to go at the top of Sandgroves Creek, and to be locked for the low tide, behind the rock bar.
And this is pretty much what we did, after having a look around in some mangrove first to see if we could sight cast a fish or two. But the water conditions, certainly due to the previous rain, was not in our favour,  so we went back to plan A and up Sandgroves Creek we headed.
We arrived a bit before the tide started to recess, and already we could hear a little boof here and there. I started to get excited, with the anticipation of catching my first Barramundi of the year.

Sandgroves Creek at low tide.

As we arrived I started to cast on the right hand side corner and just after a few cast, as my lure was passing the corner, I felt like if I was hitting the mud or a snag. So I gave it a very soft pull, to make sure that I had not encounter any timber. The line suddenly tensed and a little Barramundi started to show us how good it was at aerial acrobatic.
Yes I was on!
It was no monster but it was in my eyes, legal nonetheless and I started to get in the "I am more excited than I should" mode.
But it was not to be, as this feisty little fish was not only good at acrobatics, but it wasn't too bad either at spitting lures.
I didn't like this demonstration as much as the jumping one...
But hey, now we were sure to be in the right spot, fish were around.
This one had been hooked and lost on a soft plastic, rigged with a single hook.

Not discouraged, I continued to cast in the same spot, hoping that it would have a few brother, or maybe even a big sister hanging around the same ambush point.
And yes it took just a few casts to be on again, same lure, same trajectory, slightly smaller Barramundi... And same result...
A few jumps, and an award in lure spitting/escaping 101 for the fish.
Red card for me...
Well I tried to think that there is always another round, and that I would get my revenge.
It took a bit of time but it eventually happened.
We had moved to another arm of the creek and we could see the Barramundi boofing around us, but we couldn't manage to tempt them with our offering.

Having already lost two fish with soft plastic and single hook, I decided to try a hard body with trebles, as a way to turn the odds in my favour.
So I elected to use a little Tango Dancer.
I had heard by many people that this was a great surface lure, and this is no secret that love fishing with surface lures. At the moment my favourite walk the dog type of lure is with no doubt the DUO Realis Pencil 110, but I was afraid that it would be too big compared to the bait that the Barramundi were feeding on, this early in the season. This is why I choose the small Tango Dancer, as I don't have any of the smaller DUO Realis Pencil.
Well truth to be told, I now also really like the Tango Dancer in small size.
Why?
Because it got me my two fish of the day! And got boofed a few other times, where I lost the fish.

Brett, told me to look where the bait was shimmering on the surface of the creek, and to cast straight on it or just behind it.
So I did it.
We saw a school of bait being very nervous on the surface, next to a couple of trees standing on the mud, and we both casted in the direction of it.
Brett a soft plastic and me my surface hard body lure.
We couldn't see Brett's lure but I was attentively looking at my little lure, walking like a puppy on the surface through the bait school who got even more agitated. 
The lure going right, left, right, left, ri Boof!
No more lure on the surface! Where is my lure?
The straight line pulling away from me, and a Barramundi jumping at the end of it told me quick smart where was my lure, and with whom...
Oh I didn't want to loose a third fish, it wasn't very big, but I really wanted to finally land my first Barramundi of the year.
Because of the smallish hooks on the lure, I had my drag rather loose, and the fish was able to take a few nice run, and even when it was close to the boat, it dived again, and made me turn around the boat to know where it was going.
finally, with the fish boat side, I grabbed my leader line, and pulled it inside.
First Barramundi for 2015!

First Barramundi of the year.

It was not very big at only 57cm (22.440945 inch), but it was also my first legal Barramundi on my new combo and I decided to keep it. My little family was going to have some fresh fish to eat.

After that, I was happy, and the day could have gone without another fish for me, that it would have been the same... Yet, being a fisherman, I could not stand there, and not cast a lure, while Barra were boofing around us. So I did a cast in the same direction of where I got my fish, and didn't got another fish.
I then saw at least three simultaneous boof just at the back of the boat, so as quick as could be I flicked my lure in the middle of all this foaming watery commotion. This was literally my second cast after my first fish, and I was on again!
It gave a better fight and jumped more, but was in fact a smaller fish, by one centimetre.

Second little Barramundi.

At 56cm (22.047244 inch) it was just one centimetre over the minimum size, so we decided to let him grow a bit more, and in the creek it went again.
Brett was starting to say that it was very impolite to out fish your skipper, and I couldn't help to smile at that. As any fisherman would do, when the skipper is a good mate and you know that you can laugh about this kind of thing. I even pretended that I knew and that this is why from now on, I would just miss all the fish that would gobble my lure...
I shouldn't have said it, because this is just what happened for the rest of the afternoon. 
(Karma anyone?)
Brett would reel in fishes, and I would loose them, either boat side, or just after the hit...
I became good at that.

By example we were just about to move from a spot, when my lure got boofed on the surface, just a few feet from the boat. It made me jump in my shoes! I love seeing the sudden attack of a Barramundi on a surface lure. It always brings jitters to me, it is hard to beat.
As This Barra boofed the lure, it missed the hook and swam away, none the wiser that it might have just avoided capture by the people from above...
Seeing this, we decided to persevere a bit longer on the spot.
And of course, another Barra took my lure with gusto, and of course, I lost it too!
But this one gave me a bit of a fright, because once boat side I realised that the lure had lodged itself under the gill of the fish. Now, it is never a good place to have one's line, as the gills have razor sharp edge, and I started to get afraid that I would loose my lure.
Brett even got the net to try and quickly net this strangely hooked fish.
We could see the fish swimming with one of the gill wide open, and the lure inside of it. 
Even if it had been cold weather I would have started to sweat looking down at that.
Just as the net was ready and the fish close to the boat, it dived another time and made a funny kind of twist, which freed the lure and he swam away.
The line had very small damage from the adventure, which surprised me.
But by now Brett had spotted just opposite of us on the other side of the creek, some Barramundi boofing their head off, so we silently made our way in their direction with the electric motor.
Once there, it didn't take long for Brett to hook is first Barra of the day:

Brett first Barramundi of the day.

Yes it does look like the both of them are poking their tongue to me, as to teach me to show more respect to my skipper... Lesson learned.
The fish was in the 70s cm (27.559055 inch) and was going to be the biggest of the day.
Even if I think that Brett missed a much bigger one on a big Tango Dancer.

Brett missed a few fish there, I didn't even get a half hearted hit. Obviously, my lure was not the one to entice this bunch.

So we moved back to our first spot, where I had missed two fish earlier on, at the start of our fishing day.
On the way there, as I was saying that maybe my lure was good earlier but not anymore, and that maybe I should change it. As we were slowly moving with the electric and casting around, a fish boofed my lure, but once again didn't hook. I need bigger hooks!
So I kept the same lure on.

Brett then got his second fish, and it was a keeper too:

Brett second Barramundi.

Yes it was a keeper too, but we didn't measure this one, as it was obviously a fish of legal size.
Not long after Brett got his third fish, and because he already had two fish for himself in the esky, he decided to let it go.
Yes that was now three fish for him, and two for me, I had been defeated.
And yes, we did laugh about that too.
Which is a thing that I like about fishing with mates, the good camaraderie that enable us to laugh and relax about simple thing. A way to forgot about all of the world insanities, and to keep a good mental health.
Thank you Brett for inviting me on your new boat.

Now how big was this lure that got me my two fish?
As a fisherman would say: It was big like this!

My small Tango Dancer.

Yes a lure rather on the small size, when we think about Barramundi fishing.
But it seemed to match the hatch on the day, and I think that I will keep it in the tackle box, ready to use for my next fishing excursion.
Even if I do think that I should definitively change the hook on this little lure.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Two Nuddies From Moz.

Hi there,

I was lucky enough to received just before Christmas, a present from Moz: two of his own handmade  fishing lures. He even asked me if I would prefer them as nuddies or painted.
I said nuddies.
(Nuddy or Nuddies, are the lures left without paint, on which we can appreciate the colours of the wood that the lure is made of)

In this post you are going to read about:
  • Two timber fishing lures.
  • Both nuddy. 
  • One I will use to fish, the other will stay dry in the collection.
Yes Moz is the maker of the now well regarded Stick With Eyes, a timber lure that has earned its strips on the Darwin Harbour mud flats. With a great amount of Barramundi already caught by this little lure.

Why a name like the Stick With Eye? Well maybe because that is what it simply look like.
Look for yourself:

The Stick With Eyes.

I am sure that now you understand why...
At first glance it does look like a stick with eyes. 
But if you look at it closely, you start to see that it is shaped for swimming.


Hydrodynamic of the Stick with Eyes.

I can tell you that this very lure will be swimming, and hopefully bring me back a Barramundi.
This is what dream are made of...
And yes, it is signed under the chin, like a hipster tattoo:

Signed under the chin.

That to me is a fishing lure, who own its beauty in great part to it simplicity.

The rightly named Stick With Eyes.

At 9 cm long (3.5433071 inch), it is small, but has already proved it efficiency, it is power in a small package at its finest.

Now the second lure, called the Fall Out, is a lure that I have never fished, but this one will stay dry and safe, in my little collection.
It has already proved itself a good fish catcher too. After all, Moz caught a Barramundi that was over the metre mark on it in 2014. What other proof does one need?
And it is a rather beautiful one too:

The Fall Out.

Yes this one is a nuddy too. The more it goes the more I start to love my fishing lures to be "Au Naturel". I am yet to decide if they have the same fishing capacity as the painted ones, but on pure look, they have won my heart.
The Fall Out is a fishing lure of small size too: only 8 cm (3.1496063 inch).
Like the Stick with Eyes, it is rigged with double hooks instead of the more traditional trebles found on many hard body lures.
In fact I have myself equipped some of my Reidy's B52s with this type of hooks.
I then use them mostly when fishing land based, in very rocky places. This help to avoid getting snagged on the first rock or oysters that your lure bump into.
But I have to say that I didn't invent the system myself, no, in fact I had seen a post about it on the great blog: Secret Barramundi, written by Hiro, a legend of land based Barramundi fishing in Darwin.

Portait of the Fall Out.

When it is looking at you, you know that he means business.
From a profile point of view, the double hook, actually look like the fins.

Side view of the Fall Out.

This look like a small lure that would have a great action, destined to go snags bashing and extract fishes from the most unholy places.
The bib is made of aluminium.
Here is one last image, for the road as they say...

Dreaming of catching big fishes.

Both were made by hand, in Darwin, Australia.
We are pretty lucky in Darwin as it seems to be a revival of the cottage lure industry. It is very nice to see so many people making artisanal timber fishing lures; so close to home.

This is two lures that I really like and am very happy to now have in my possession.
Thank you Moz, that was a great Christmas present.

Now, it might be a few months before I will be able to show you a fish caught on the Stick with Eyes, so please be patient, and indulgent.

But hey, it cold be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Two Reidy's Prototypes

Hi there,

I am showing you today, two soft plastic prototypes, from the reputed fishing lures company Reidy's.
Reidy's is an Australian fishing lures manufacturer, based in Darwin, Northern Territory. Their lures are very popular with Barramundi fishermen in the Top End of Australia, but are also gaining momentum on a national and international level.
All thanks to the dynamism of Colin, the director of Reidy's; and his team.

Well Colin was kind enough to visit me last evening, and gave me these two prototypes.
Yes they are prototypes, and might well go through a few modifications before being put on sale, yet they already look pretty good to me.
Do you want to see them?
Here they are:

Two Reidy's soft plastic prototypes.

On the first look, they look rather similar to the traditional rubbers from Reidy's, yet look at them a bit closer...
The first obvious thing is the size of the paddle at the end of the tail: it is enormous!
As such it should provide a deadly action, even in the slowest retrieve possible, or just on the drop.
Talking about the drop, the weight is lighter on these new lures. So they should have a slower dive speed, but still have good action on the dive, because of the previously mentioned big paddle finishing their tail.
Now the eyelet to put a stinger hook, under the chin of the lure, seems to be a bit larger than before too.

Here come two more photos:

Prototype in the Karens Pearl colour.

Prototype in a colour unknown to me.

Yes, the second one look a bit like the Yellow Belly colour, but with a see through belly...

I don't know much more about them, except that they have already been tested in Mackay, Queensland, where they proved very effective on big Barramundi.
Now, I can't wait to go and test them, and hopefully catch a nice Barra with them.
In how long will they hit the shelves of your favourite tackle shop?
No idea about that, honest.
Which is a pity, because I would love to get a full bag of them for the incoming season.
And I am afraid that they will not be fully ready and available before the run off...
Oh and please, be indulgent with the quality of the photos.
I was so excited about these lures, and wanted to do a post so urgently, that I just did the pictures with my phone instead of getting a proper camera...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My New Combo.

Hi there,

Yes I have a new brand new combo, rod and reel!
And that is some really cool stuff, that I am super happy to have won.
Yes you read it right, this is a combo that I won, for being fourth at the end of the year; in the 2014 Top End Barra Series, this prize was offered by the competition sponsor Fishing and Outdoor World.
(F&OW even swapped the reel for me, as I needed a left hand one, and they had first offered a right hand one. Now this is what I call a great sponsor)
So what it is?

  • A St.Croix bait caster fishing rod.
  • A Curado 201I fishing reel.
I am really happy with the reel, as a new reel is alway great. Specially when it is the last model.
(And yes I had looked at them online)
But for the rod... It is like a dream come true, as I had looked at the St.Croix many times at the shop, but never bought one, as they were just out of my price range for fishing tackle.

Here are some quick pics made with my phone:

My new fishing rod.

My new fishing reel.

I have had this combo for a week now, but could not find the time to really use it.
Yesterday morning, I did go to the shore for a very short time, just to make some test casts.
And I can tell you that this brought me a great pleasure.
It cast like a charm, long cast without pain.
Now does the rod load well under pressure?
Well I am still dreaming of catching a good Barramundi with it to see how it would handle it, and if the reel has a good wind on capability. 

You see I was just testing it in a very beautiful seating:

Fannie Bay in the morning.

But honestly, I was more thinking of catching a Queenfish, or even a small Trevally than anything else.
As I was testing my new toys just there, I saw Chonga, come along with some mates of him, and after we had a little chat, he started to fish, and quickly got a nice Golden Snapper; on a lure, just from the shore...
Some people have all the talent!

I moved a just bit further away to a little beach, and continued to cast, using a top water lure, the DUO Realis Pencil 110.
This is a lure that has caught me some Queenfish in the past, and I was thinking that it would be good to get one now.
This is about when I saw a very quick and small flash of silver, and felt something hitting my lure.
Game on, I had a fish on the line!
But wait, did I already lost it?
No, I can still feel it, the silly bugger must have been swimming toward me.
So close to the shore, and I still can't see it, what is it?
Not really much of a fight, but it is still a fish, and a fish is a fish...
And it came to me feet, on the sandy beach...

Baby Long Tom on the lure.

Yes it was a young Belonidae, or Long Tom as they are commonly  known in Australia.
It made me laugh that this little guy could have been so greedy as to take on a lure nearly as big as itself.
I made just a quick photo of it, and released it so it could grow bigger. I am sure that with a temper as this it will become a terror in the neighbourhood...

So Yes, the rod and reel are an absolute pleasure to fish with, even if I am yet to catch a good fish with it.
Still dreaming of that elusive big Mama Barra on it, and can't wait to meet her.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Final Round.

Hi there,

Today comes the tale of the sixth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, the final round for this year tournament.

  • It was hard fishing.
  • We did not too bad.
  • Brett broke a very nice fishing rod.
  • I lost a horse of a fish.
  • And I already can't wait for next year Series.
The round for 2014 took place at Salt Water Arm, and Leaders Creek was included in the boundaries.
So we decided to launch from Leaders Creek, to use their dry feet launch facilities, and also because we had elected to camp on their camping ground in the evening.
As we made our way along Leaders creek in the morning light, I could not help myself to think that I was pretty lucky to live in this peaceful part of the world.

Morning in Leaders Creek.

We did not wast any time in Leaders, and moved straight to the Narrow in Salt Water Arm.
There we started a troll, as the place is famous for big Barramundi. Keeping an eye on the sounder to see if we could spot some fish.
Brett saw some, and after trolling over them once or twice for not even a sniff, we decided to use the electric motor, to stay close to them, and to try to cast lures in their direction.
We had started fishing for about 25 minutes, when Brett did a cast in the opposite direction of the fish, aiming at the mangrove near the bank. He was fishing with his new custom made fishing rod, that he had won in a precedent round of the TEBS, and a new lure that he had never tested before...
As soon as his offering landed in the water, between some mangrove roots, the lure got engulfed by a very nice Barramundi.
Beauty! The fish was strong, but Brett fought it well, and after a few runs, I was able to net it, and the spirits went flying high.

Brett's first Barramundi of the weekend.

At 72cm (28.346457 inches), this was a great start to the round! As you can see, the tail on this fish was big and powerful. We were more than happy, we had just started, in a spot that none of us were very familiar with, and in no time we had managed to get a good fish in the boat.
It was released after a quick measurement, and the obligatory photographs.
We believed then and there that the weekend was going to be easy and full of good fish...
Oh how appearance can be misleading some times...

How? Well for a start, on the third cast after this fish, Brett brand new rod, broke.
Just like that, he was not doing anything particular, he was just casting. I was standing next to him, his lure was still in the air, when we heard the dreading sound of a graphite fishing rod breaking.
We have no ideas why it broke, but it certainly put a dent in our happiness.
To Brett because it was a brand new rod, that he was using for the first time, and had been fishing with for less than an hour. And to me because, well that is definitively not something that you wish to a good mate of yours, especially in a competition.
With the fact that Brett would now have just one fishing rod left for the rest of the round settling in, we decided to do a bit more trolling.
Which resulted only in a little Cod that took my lure in about fifteen feet of water.
Where it went back.
Then we noticed that someone had been even more unlucky than Brett.
A guy, steering his boat at night, had crashed in the mangrove, big time.

Crashed boat.

This was a guy we know, and we heard from other people that he was now in hospital.
A few days after the comp, we learned that yes the damage were of consequence, but that every body on this boat was still alive, and out of hospital.

As we could not find any more fish in the Narrow, we decided to move closer to the Wilshire, and entered a beautiful little creek.
It had Barramundi written all over it. Bait, eddies, snags, everything was there, except the Barramundi. Like if they had never heard of this beautiful little creek.
Until, we found in a bent of the creek, a great looking snag. 
We were still in the approach mode, silently going forward with the electric motor, when I could not resist anymore, and did the longest cast possible. To drop my lure, between the snag and the bank, and started to jig it back toward the boat through the snag. Wondering if I would hit the timber of the snags, or be lucky enough to finally find a fish in there. And bang I was on! Instead of diving for the snag, it went straight to the surface and jumped out of the water, showing us with no doubt, that he was a Barramundi!
I got so afraid that it would take me around the submerged trees, which it could have easily done, but Brett quick thinking (and he would have to think quick later on too...) put the boat in the best place, for me to extract this little Barramundi out of the snags, and he netted it in a perfect manner.
I was on the board too!

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

 At 62cm (24.409449 inches) it definitively made me happy, I now had a fish too.
It looked like it hadn't been in salt water for a long time, like if he had come from fresh water not too long ago, so I put it back in the drink.
We worked this snag a bit more, wondering if any more fish would be in there.
Brett had put a new soft plastic lure on his line, and we admired the swimming action of it.
I was even saying that if I was a Barra, I would be all over it. Well the Barramundi must have been thinking alike, as Brett hooked up to his second fish of the weekend.

Brett's second Barramundi of the weekend.

This fish measured 56cm (22.047244 inches). It was a point scorer, but sadly was going to be Brett's last Barramundi of the weekend.
Now sure that this great snag, in the middle of the creek bent was full of fish, we get back to it, and peppered it with our lures. 
And Brett got a new hookup...
But it was not a fish. Neither a snag, or even me (That nearly came up later). It was a crocodile!
A crocodile had grabbed his lure, and it didn't want to give it back. In the end, the line broke.
This was enough to make us think that if the croc had moved in to eat the fish, the fish would move out pretty quickly, and that is what we did too.
We simply moved to the next creek, closer to the Narrow. 
Where we found another nice looking pile of snags, with fish in it. But I lost two fish in a very short time. It was time to take some drastic measure, and I decided to stop using the safe option of casting weedless soft plastic in the snags. I was going to flick some hard body, three trebles and all, so if a fish found my lure, it would stick to it. Yet I didn't want to take the risk of loosing one of my favourite lures, so decided to go for a Gold Bomber.
Since I started to fish for Barramundi with lures, I was told countless times that the go to lure in Darwin, would be the Gold Bomber. Yet I was still to catch one on this lure, that I had in my tackle box for so long. I made a few cast toward the snag, but by now the fish in it must have been spooked, and I could not find any of them.
As we were moving out of the creek, I made a cast perpendicular to the mangrove, and twitched my lure back toward us. Hookup! 
I had a fish, and it looked like a little barra! I got it to the boat, it wasn't very big, and was visibly well hooked, so I just dragged it in the boat, by the leader.

My first Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.

At a length of 55cm (21.653543 inches) it was a just legal fish, and was going to be my smallest one of the weekend. It was a point scorer, small points, but points nonetheless, and more importantly, I had now after all these years finally caught a Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.
We then wanted to go and have a look at Chad's creek, but seeing the white caps on the water, we decided to go straight back to Leaders Creek, and it too us nearly one hour to get there in the swell.

Once in Leaders Creek, we saw Seano and Kieran and they told us that the fishing was not so hot.
But being there, we decided to troll a little bit...
This is when I did hook a really big fish. I think that I can say that this must have been the biggest Barramundi that I have ever hooked. The strike came violently, without warning, with sheer brute force.
But, I had the drag on my reel practically locked up. The fish took just one run that must have been between 50cm and a metre long, and made a full jump out of the water, perpendicular to the boat. As I was sitting backward, looking at the back of the boat, I saw it in its fullness. Most of the time, big fish just get their shoulders or half of their body out of the water. But this one came all out, in a beautiful straight jump, and my lure, was just simply ripped out of its mouth at that very moment, I think. I didn't saw the lure but I started to rewind like a maniac, the fish by its massive size, had startled me, and all I could say was: It's Big! 
But Brett, who is generally more cold blooded than I when it comes to fishing, asked me if I was still on? I replied that I didn't know, but was still reeling in like if there was no tomorrow. Brett looked at me and said: Stop reeling, you have lost it...
And he was right.
With a more subtle drag, I could have caught this fish, but I did not...
The memory of it is going to haunt me for a long time.
I missed this fish by my own fault, and hopefully will have learn a lesson about it...

Brett, got a good hit just after that, but didn't stay connected.
This made us troll for a bit longer, but we finally decided to go back to the ramp, and setup our camp.
On arriving at the ramp, I could not help but look at the crocodile trap, just a few feet away, from where the guy who operate the ramp was standing. Feet in the water, guiding the boat on their respective trailer.

The croc trap near the Leaders Creek's boat ramp.

There is absolutely no way you would have me standing in the water so close to a crocodile trap.
But it was this guy's job, and he didn't seemed to have any problem with that.
We setup camp, and started a little fire:

Camp fire, with my tent in the background.

Seano and Kieran, joined us, and we all had dinner together. Recounting the events of the days, and wondering how the other participants had done. We keep wondering if anyone had caught a really big Barramundi.
As it turned out, Seano and Kieran, were to catch the two biggest Barramundi of the round the following day. Kieran, would even catch the biggest Jewfish, at 119cm (46.850394).
Brett lent his battery charger to Seano, so he could still use his electric the following day.
It started to be dark, and every one was more or less exhausted by the day of fishing, so we decided to retire to our respective tents. 
I had one of the best sleep I had in a long time. There is something very soothing, to sleep in a tent, that is nothing else than just a mozzie dome, to look at the stars and listen to the night birds, as you fall asleep.
Here is a little two minutes film, I made with my phone in the morning, to give you an idea of what it looked like.

Morning sounds at the camp ground.

As the sun was rising on the last day of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, we made our way in Leaders Creek, as many other hopeful were doing.

Sun rise on Leaders Creek.

We didn't even stop to fish the mouth of Leaders Creek, (Seano and Kieran, latter on told us that when they saw us past, they just smiled, as they had already caught a 94cm (37.007874 inches) Barramundi, and were happy to see every body else going in other places. 
Us, we went straight where Brett got his first fish on the previous day, in the Narrow, in the hope of a bis repetita . With the boat overing near the snag that produced such a nice fish on the Saturday, we both stand next to each other, casting to it, waiting for the Barramundi to strike. And one of them, came, and near the surface had a go at Brett's lure. Brett tried to set the hook, but the lure flew out of the mouth of the fish, and came straight smacking me on the throat. It was strong enough for me to feel it hard hitting where you don't want a lure to hit you.
But lucky me, only the side of the lure that doesn't have a hook hit me, and the lure fell down in the water in front of us.
This could have been a rather tragic end to the day, but luck had been on our side, and we were able to laugh about it.
This was the only fish that we saw at this spot at the time. So we decided to try the snag in the other little creek that had given us two fish the day before.
We arrived there, and started to cast soft plastic in it, for not much action.
Brett turned around and said: I will switch on the sounder to see what it says about the spot.
And as soon as he finished to say it, I shouted: It says that there is some fish in it!
Yes you guessed right, I was on!
This fish, must have been half sleeping still, as it didn't gave a very strong fight. But I was still very happy when it got in the net.

My third Barramundi of the weekend.

This one went 60cm (23.622047 inches), once again, not a giant, but not a bad fish either, especially in regards of what other people in the competition were catching.
This made us think that we might be able to pull a few more fish from our lucky snag.
But it was not to be, and we didn't get anything else from there.

So we decided to go back to the mouth of Leaders Creek. The idea was that we might catch the turn of the tide there, and that the fish would be on the chew.

Leaders Creek's mouth.

As we arrived, we could see a big and very marked colour change in the water.
We soon bumped into Seano and Kieran, who told us that Seano had a 95cm Barramundi, and Kieran a 94cm Barramundi and the 119cm Jewfish.
These fish had been caught just where we were, in the middle of the colour change.
So we started trolling, I had put at the end of my line a Reidy's Big Ass B52s in the colour 008. This is one of my favourite colour in their range, and has served me well over the years. It is often good to use a lure that you trust, and this time was no different.
I got a smashing hit by a big mama Barramundi:

Jumping Barramundi at the end of my line.
Photograph © Kieran Gillespie.

Seano and Kieran who were just near by, started to photograph and film the action. Which might have been a bit on the comical side of things. Because as soon as I had the hit, Brett got tension on his line too! And we both found ourselves fighting a fish! But it downed upon us, that we might have been both fighting the same fish... And the question was then, but who hooked it? For which lure had she gone?
When she finally jumped between the two boats, both Seano and Kieran shouted: She's on the Yellow lure! And that lure was mine, Brett had a silver one. But this Barramundi had gone and wrapped herself in Brett's line and we had to both be carful at what we were doing with her.
She first went jumping at the front of our boat, then swam straight for Seano and Kieran's boat. I started to be afraid that she would go under their propeller, and cut the lines.
But she stopped a bit before that and went for the back of Brett's boat. So we moved at the back of the boat. As soon as we were there, she went at the front of the boat again. Yes, she gave us a good dance this one.
I could hear Seano and Kieran screaming some encouragement, and some joke too, like: Is your drag ok? Or, Make her jump! Make her jump! 
And during all the fight, as I was just trying to get her at netting distance, Brett was reeling his line too, steering the boat at getting the net ready. Talk about multitasking!
As we were back at the front of the boat, she was very close to the net, but managed to avoid it and take another run. Finally she came back and Brett told me to raise her head, which I did and Brett scooped her in the net.
As soon as I saw her in the net, relief and joy overcame me, I had a good fish!

My beautiful last Barramundi of the weekend.

She came in at 85cm (33.464567 inches). She was my best Barramundi of the weekend, and I was very happy to finally have a good fish that hopefully would give me some good scoring point in the round.
This was also so far my best fish on my Revo Off Shore, usually, I get all my good fish on my Curado, so this was a nice change too. You know the little things that made you happy, just like that.

We did troll a bit longer, but for not a single hit, so we decided to pull the curtain on a great weekend.
We went back to the ramp, packed the boat, and hit the road back toward civilisation.

On the road again.

This had been a frustrating and good weekend at the same time.
Frustrating, because it was sad to see Brett breaking a brand new rod.
And good, because it had two days of fishing involved, and that is something that I really like, and as a bonus all our fish this weekend were point scorer.
Thanks again to Brett for inviting me on his boat for the full series this year, I really had a good time.
So what did the 2014 Top End Barra Serie has offered me?
Well...
  • My first Barramundi over a Metre long.
  • My first Mangrove Jack.
  • My first night time Barramundi on a fizzer.
  • My first Barramundi on a walk the dog type of lure.
  • My first Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.
  • And six weekends away with the mates, plenty of laugh and good times.
Would I like to be part of it again next year?
Oh yes, no hesitation about that.

You might ask how did we fishing score wise Brett and I, for the last round, and in the overall scoreboard...
Well for the last round, Brett came in at number 20, and I at number 6.
But where it become really interesting is that at the overall score, we both finished in the top ten!
Brett ended in sixth position and I in fourth.
My big hope at the start of the 2014 series, was that we would both be in the top half, and maybe in the top ten... 
Well it happened, and I am really happy about that.
All I can say now is, bring on the 2015 Top End Barra Series!

And it will be a very long time before it all restart again...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Wanted A Barra.

Hi there,

Yes, this morning I went fishing because I wanted a Barra...

  • I got a Barra.
  • But it wasn't a Barramundi, it was a Barracuda.
The FFF forum has at the moment a competition called The Seadogs, in which you get some point if you catch a Barramundi every month for about a year.
So this morning, I went to one of my favourite land based fishing spot. But truth to be told, I usually go there for pelagic fish rather than for Barramundi.
Yet hope is what makes the world go round, so I had hope.

I arrived early at East Point, and quickly realised that I had missed this spot a lot lately.
It is really a beautiful spot, just in the city, basically.

Sunrise at East Point.

The water was beautiful and calm, and I started to feel that it could be a good morning...

The East Point rocks.

One can easily understand why I like this spot so much, some rocks in the water is usually a good sign to catch some fish.
On arrival, I saw a gentleman who was practicing the noble art of angling, and asked him if he had any luck.
He replied that he had just arrived and as such didn't had the time to catch anything yet.
Ok, I told myself, fair enough.
On the water I spotted my friend Aaron, who was trolling a lure from his kayak.
(He did well, and got three Trevally)
I walked a bit away from the said gentleman, as I don't like it too much when I am quietly fishing in a peaceful spot and someone comes out of nowhere, to fish over my shoulder.
I put on a walk the dog type of lure, did a first soft kind of cast to make sure that every thing was working right. And it did work alright.
So a more serious cast, as far as I could, along the rocks ledge.
And there, in the morning light, I look at my lure, walking like a dog, on the water surface. Thinking that this was a well made lure, easy to use, and rather efficient at catching fish.
When Boum! A flash of silver, and no more lure on the surface, but a tense line and an excited angler.
The fish went straight for the bottom, and didn't fight like a Barramundi. Neither like a Queenfish or a Trevally, which are my most common catch at East Point.
I started to wonder what it could be?
And this is only when it was brought back close enough for me to see what kind of toothy critter had taken interest in my lure.
It was a small Barracuda:

Little Barracuda on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

Which one is his better side?

It kept jumping around, and because of the set of teeth that he was armed with, I had to use my lip grip and a plier to get my lure back, as quick as I could, before putting it back in the water.

First fish on the second cast of the day!
Oh yes, I was now sure that it would be a great morning.
Well it was, but this first fish was also the last one of the day...

Then why was it a great morning you might ask?
Well, because my mate Aaron let me try his kayak, and I really liked it, even if I could not forget that Crocodylus porosus swim in these waters. Which is why, I did not venture too far from shore, and not for very long.
I did met with a new member of the FFF, whom I had never met before.
And also, because I saw Dave, whom I had not seen for a long time.
And Dave made a photo of me fishing, and it shows where I was then hoping to get my Sunday Barramundi. 

Yours truly, in action; (Photo © Dave K.)

A spot of shallow rocky water, along a mangrove.
Well, it looked like the right spot, but the right spot it was not.

From a day that had started so well, with a fish on my second cast, I could not catch another fish. Not because of error on my part. I didn't get a single other hit.
Nothing, nada, zero...
I was hopeful to get a Barramundi, and all I got was a small Barracuda.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Round 5.

Hi there

It was the fifth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, and how did it go?
  • We did much better than last year in roughly the same location (Bynoe Harbour).
  • We got most of our fish on soft plastic lures.
  • I got my first Barramundi on a walk the dog type of lure.
  • Brett is continuing to climb the overall score board, at fast pace.
Yes it was in Bynoe Harbour a place where I got a donut last year... 
But this year was going to be very different, that it could be seen as night and day.
In fact to be honest it was one of my best fishing trip in a long time.
Yes, I had a bit of a cold, which made me cough and sweat more than I should have. I also have had some fishing trip where more fishes were caught, or bigger one...
But fishing in a place that you don't know well, and doing much better than the previous time that you fished it... It has a kind of buzz, that is difficult to beat. When you have the sensation of learning new tricks, it can make you very happy.

So I was fishing this round with Brett, who had kindly invited me o his boat again for this round.
And this was a great advantage for me, as he knows Bynoe Harbour very well.
We arrived at he boat ramp, early in the morning, and a few boats were already waiting in line.
It was good to catch up with a few mates, and some new faces. Exchanging some pre-fishing banters, and just being happy to be there.

Quickly we made our way up to one of Brett's spot, not wasting any precious fishing time.
We put on some soft plastic lures that Brett says are the most efficient fish catcher in Bynoe.
And oh right he was!
we caught about 20 Baramundi and a few other species of fish over the weekend, and only two of all this lot were caught on a different lure.
At the first spot, it was sight casting, a thing that I wanted to try for a long time.
It was great, just waiting for the Barra to arrive from the left, cast a lure in front of it, reel in and look at the fish going for it.
Definitively one of the  most exciting way of fish for Barramundi.
And this is how I got my first Barramundi of the weekend:

First Barramundi of the weekend.

At 54cm (21.259843 inches), it was no monster, but it was a point scorer, the monkey was off my back, and from now on it was all going to be fun. 
Brett got a few undersize fish and finally showed me what fishing really is, by catching a few good ones in a row.

A very serious Barramundi fisherman.

Catching Barramundi, one after the other.

In fact Brett got at least 4 Barramundi from this spot, from memory, I think that the 5 or 6 first Barra caught over the weekend were all sight casted.
This was very exciting, and I did get a bit too excited, when a nice fat 80cm+ (31.496063 inches) Barramundi came swimming on our left.
Brett said: this one is yours, get it.
So I casted toward it... But totally messed up my cast, and flicked the lure way to close to it, and spooked it.
Aaaah!
This would have been a good fish, and safely was not the first one of the weekend that I would miss, just by being silly...
By example as we were moving away from this spot, my skipper showed me a Barramuni, hiding between the submerged branches of a tree. He told me to just drop my lure behind it and lift the fish out of there as soon as it would be hooked. Simple concept really.
But I wanted, against his advice, use a weedless lure...
It went like this: we approach as silently as we could. I drop my lure, behind the fish, just a bit on its side. The Barramundi, turned on itself and very aggressively gobbled the lure! I try to raise the fish out of the water and the branches; it simply open the mouth and let the lure fly out...
My bad, I should have used the same lure that had caught fish before during the day.

You would think that I would have learnt my lesson there and then?
Well, that is another story...

From there we moved into a little creek, were we got stuck in a water hole, by the receding tide.
But all was not lost, as we did catch a few fishes in there.
Brett was laughing his way through a high number of fish:

Happy like a man who just caught a Barramundi.

Despite totally crushing me in the catch rate, Brett was saying that it was the quieter he had ever seen the place. That this water hole should have plenty more of Barra, and some good Tarpon and Threadfin Salmon.
Guess what? 
Not long after talking about Tarpon, he got one, you know, just to show me that they were around:

The Tarpon.

I could not just stay there looking at him catching all the fish; so I hooked on a small Barramundi.

My second point scorer of the weekend.

That was enough to keep me in good spirit, and I kept trying. So Brett once again showed me how to do it:

With another Barramundi from the same spot.

I then got another from the same spot. Basically, there was a stick in the water, and we got all our fish when the lures were swimming past the stick. We could see on the sounder bigger fish, but could not tempt them to hit our lures...
It the water hole, when we arrived, we saw another boat.
They told us that they hooked a Barramundi, but that it took them on a snag and broke the line.
Yes, that must have been on the stick where we got our fishes, as with the falling tide, we saw the lure and were able to pick it up.
When we saw the guys who had lost the lure a bit later in the day, we gave it back to them, this is also what the Top End Barra Series is about.

As the tide was soon to come back we hoped that the big fish would get on the chew and start to bite.
Well, I did get a bit of a surprise:

Mud crab on the lure.

Lucky for him, it was too small to keep so i did put it back.
And lucky for me it was small too, because he tried to grab me with his nippers, and missed me by an hair. Mud crabs can be a bit dangerous when big, and they are also delicious to eat, this one would need to get bigger, and is safe from humans for now.
not long after I got a small Threadfin Salmon, and let it go, as it was like the crab before him, a bit too small to be kept.

This is the place where we waited for the tide to come back to take us out of the creek:

A little water hole full of Barramundi.

The place didn't look like much, but when the Barramundi are hungry, it must be a great place to be.
Coming out of there, sailing in very shallow water we came across a patch of water where the Barra were booting their heads off. 
Brett told me not to think, just cast in front of me, and try to catch some!
I was wondering if it we would catch anything in this dirty fast running water.
I had to reel in much faster than usual, just to keep the lure to be taken on the sand because of the current. And I was wondering how a Barramundi or any other fish, would be able to see my lure in this dark water...
Well it didn't take long, just a few cast, and I was hooked to what much have been my best fish of the weekend.It used the current to its advantage, and first swam toward the boat. Then came to the surface and made its first jump: a very nice Barramundi it was! Brett got the net, got ready to scoop it, but the fish seeing the net, took another run, and I had trouble to get it back to the boat.
When it was finally close enough, Brett got ready again, and instead of going down, the fish came up and jumped again, this time spitting the lure on the right while diving back on the left...
Brett did try to get it in the net, but alas, it was too late and the fish was lost.
Ah!
Brett then quickly hooked on another one, but it was a small one, not a point scorer, and then, as suddenly as it had started, it ended, and the joint become lifeless. 
We ha had a chance, and we lost it, but it had been some really exciting fishing.
It was then time to go back to land, and that is what we did.
We wen to the Palm Sands for a dinner and a night in an air-conditioned room. No not the Sands Plam from Las Vegas, the little motel near Bynoe Harbour...
But the food was great and generous, and it was good after a full day on the water to sleep in air cone and have a shower.
And also talking to all the other participants in the Top End Barra Series who had made up camp at the same motel. Chatting with some of them, we started to think that with all the fish that Brett had caught during the first day, he might end up doing well on the scoreboard. And we were right about that.
So it is withe great optimism that we launched again the following morning.

Beautiful morning to go fishing.

It was a beautiful morning to go fishing, and every body seemed happy.

Trying to be the first on the good spot.

We did pass a few mates on our way to the morning fishing spot. They were going fast, and were going to go much slower in the afternoon...
You will understand...

We went straight where we had sight casted to fish the previous morning. But this time the water was dirty and we could not really see any fish coming through.
Yet a bit on the side of there, we could see a reef that was soon to be exposed, and some bait being harassed by predator.
With the aid of the electric motor, we moved toward the spot and started to flick our lures where the bait was very nervous.
Brett got a very good hit, but it didn't connect.
I got a hit, but the fish pulled hard to the bottom, not coming up. I started to wonder what it was?
It was a Mangrove Jack!

My second ever Mangrove Jack.

This was my second ever Mangrove Jack; the first one had be in the previous round of the Top End Barra series, in the Darwin Harbour.
I was very happy with that!
This one I kept for the esky, Mangrove Jack are delicious to eat.
To me a Mangrove Jack first thing in the morning, is definitively a good sign.
And yes, not long after that, just a few metres from where I had hooked the Mangrove Jack, I hooked on a fish that didn't wast any time to jump, and show us all the chrome it was made of.
It was going to be my biggest Barramundi of the weekend.

My best Barramundi of the weekend.

At only 60cm (23.622047 inches) it was still a rather small fish, but I was to learn latter on that in this round of the Top End Barra Series, it was still going to be a good fish. And it made me very happy.
But with the bites slowing down, and the tide doing the same thing, we decided to move toward another rock bare, in the hope of better fishing.
In doing so we realised that we were leaving not a minute too early, as we could see the sea floor under the boat, and nearly scrapped it a few times. At our destination, the fishing was still very slow, we saw Draco, who confirmed to us, that there was not many Barramundi, where we had just arrived.
We could see some young Queenfish harassing the bait around the boat. So I put a DUO lures, the Realis Pencil 110 that Brett had given me a few months ago, on my line and throw it among them.
That was definitively a winer and I was soon rewarded with a nice little Queenfish hooked on it.

Queenfish on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

This was my first fish on a walk the dog type of lure, and I loved it!When you see your lure walking like a dog on the surface, and a school of fish zooming in on it, then one of them smashing the lure and you line starting to go tight and flying from your reel... What a feeling.

But as we were having all this fun, Brett noticed that some mates of ours, were still on the first rock bare that we had left earlier, when the tide was going down...
And it didn't look really good for them, they seemed to be stranded. So Brett made the call to go and try to rescue them.

The boys stuck on the dry flats.

We could not go too close to them, or we would have been stuck too.
The plan was to try to pull them out of there, before we get stuck ourselves.
So we needed to join the two boat with a rope. For that to happen, one of us had to wade for about 100 meters in knees high water... With my well documented fear of crocodiles, there is no way that I was going to do it. So one of the boys had to run from their boat to Brett's boat, get the rope and go back to his boat. 
The rope was attached between both boat and Brett tried to pull them out of their misery.

Trying to pull the stranded boat.

Well it didn't works as excepted, and we couldn't move their boat at all.
The outboard was starting to overheat, so we had to stop.
Brett asked them if they had enough water, to which they said yes, and we wished them a good day, waiting for the tide. As we made our way to deeper and safer water.

From there we moved to a different spot on the harbour, where we saw Cuddelscooper and his Dear Lady. They told us what everybody told us before. That the fishing was slow, and that they didn't had that much fish yet...
We had a chat, and fished along them for a little while, but for no results.
So we moved along.

And casting over some low tide reefs, I got a small Golden Snapper.

Small golden Snapper on the lure.

And we decided to go back where we were before. But just a few hundreds of meters on our way, and Brett slowed down the boat, and told me: Look at this eddy, it could be full of fish...
And full of fish it was. Some of our best fish for the weekend were caught in the following hour. From a seemingly barren little eddy, whiteout much of a snag or anything, apart a nice colour chafe in the water.
Some were small, but some were better, and Brett got the king share of them:

Brett with a nice chrome salt water Barramundi.

And another one.

In fact because we thought that the opportunity to catch some fish was going to be short, with the tide rising, we did not take pictures of all the fish, as to not waste any time. Only the better ones were photographed. And trust me, for me not to take a picture of each and every fish that came onboard, was difficult...

Selfie with a Barramundi.

I even just did a quick selfie of what was going to be my second best fish of the weekend, before putting it back in the water, because I didn't want to wast any precious time.
When he saw that, Brett asked me if I was all right or sick? Apparently it is well know, that I always want some good photo. We had a good laugh about that too.
And yes, the bite died down, and we had to find some better water if we wanted to catch some more.
By then, we both had our bag of five fish (But we only kept three fish, all the other had been returned to the water to grow bigger). And were in the pursuit of better fish to upgrade our score.
We went in a little creek, that become accessible once the tide started to rise.
And in there, I got my first ever Barramundi on a walk the dog lure:

My first Barramundi on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

Was I happy? You bet that I was! I liked this lure before, but now I loved it! In the dirty water of the rising tide, the noise that t produce had permitted the Barramundi to zoom on it, and the strike was nothing short of spectacular. In fact the Barra did not boof the lure like they often do. It came and slashed it like if he was a pelagic fish attacking a bait ball. The struck was very aggressive. I was looking at the lure swimming on top of the water, when I saw this grey thing ram the lure from the right and disappear under water with it. I am on ! I screamed, and Brett immediately asked if it was a Barramundi? I don't know I replied, as I had just seen the struck, but had not been able to identify the fish, as it was too fast.
It didn't jump, stayed at the bottom and fought hard, when it finally came to the surface, seeing a bit of grey, I knew it wasn't a cod of some sort, but wasn't sure if it was a Salmon, a Queenfish or a Barramundi. Then it dived, but doing so, raised its tail, and I knew it was a Barramundi, and I didn't want to loose it.
Turned out that I was not going to loose it, as he had hooked itself on both trebles.
And yes it was a small upgrade for me.
And this was the last fish of the weekend.

We then made our way to the boat ramp, where a few boat had been doing the same at the same time... It was peak hour at the ramp.
But the mangrove was still beautiful, and I din't really mind the wait, as it was the occasion to catch up with a few mates.

Bynoe Harbour mangrove.


So how did we ended up Brett and I in this round?
Well Brett finished third and me in the ninth position. This mean that Brett is still continuing his climb on the overall scoreboard, and me, I am not sure yet. I will have to wait to see the full scoreboard to know about that.

Thank you Brett for inviting me on your boat once again.

In the car on the way back, I had a bit of time to reflect on what a great weekend it had been.
And on what the Top End Barra Series had provided me with so far for the 2014 edition.
  • It gave me my first Barramundi over 100cm (39.370079 inches).
  • It gave me my first night time Barramundi on a fizzer.
  • it gave me my first Mangrove Jack.
  • It gave me my first Barramundi on a walk the dog lure.
And plenty of good laugh and friendship. I have also learned again about fishing for Barramundi, in every rounds. 
So it is only fair to say that the first five round of this year Top End Barra Series has been great to me.
Just one more round, and then we will have to wait till next year for it to restart all over again.
This will be a long wait.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.